Workers Group To Protest at Towson Town Center
United Workers will sing carols and drop letters Wednesday to protest GGP's lack of response to the group's concerns about Harborplace.
The tents may not be coming, but a workers group wants to bring the spirit of the Occupy movement to Towson, with a side of the Christmas spirit.
The group will meet at 4:30 p.m. at the mall entrance at Fairmount Avenue and Towson Gate Drive, where protestors will sing Christmas carols before heading inside to unfurl a banner and release their flyers and letters.
The letter, dated Dec. 10, 2009, calls out the leadership of Chicago-based General Growth Properties, the mall's owner, for not doing enough to encourage better working conditions at The Gallery at Harborplace, which the company also owns.
The group, which has been protesting GGP since 2008, claims workers at Inner Harbor stores and restaurants experience poor working conditions, wage theft, "poverty wage" and inadequate medical care.
"General Growth Properties ... has never responded to workers demands or our requests for face-to-face meetings despite repeated attempts to reach out to them," said Ashley Hufnagle, a United Workers spokeswoman.
Hufnagle said the group wants GGP to enact terms in its leases to guarantee fair wages for those who work at Harborplace and its other malls.
General Growth Properties has ownership stakes in 169 malls across the country, and Hufnagle said the group protests elsewhere, too.
GGP has not yet responded to requests seeking comment.
The group's efforts have not only been focused on GGP. In 2010, they took up the cause of Baltimore ESPNZone employees who suddenly found themselves laid off when the restaurant closed. In 2007, they were involved in the successful protests to get a living wage for the cleaning staff at Camden Yards.
The Occupy movement, Hufnagle said, echoes everything the group has been working towards.
"We are in complete solidarity with the message of Occupy, the idea that there's this growing inequality between the 1 percent and the 99 percent and workers at the harbor are the 99 percent," she said. "It's time that these billionaire developers are held accountable."